If you couldn’t figure out, I am new to guns. I was always into them but have never actually tried to go shoot at a range as an adult in my 20s. So, the first opportunity I had to shoot some guns was at my friend’s bachelor party. My other friend thought it would be a good idea to have part of his party at a gun range since none of us have used a gun before. I was totally down with this idea. Needless to say, I was excited, yet terrified at the same time because I had no idea what to expect the first time at a gun range. The only thing I knew about guns at the time was what I learned from video games. From modern day first-person-shooters, I have done a bit of research in my teens about the different makes and models and a bit about the different types. So, when we walked in to our first gun range/store, it put a smile to my face to say the least. I was kind of like a kid in a candy store being able to see the weapons I have only ever seen on a screen in person for the first time.
Since this was our first time at a gun range, none of us had any firearms to bring to the range. We had to rent some guns to have any fun. For the range we were at, we needed to purchase and sign a waiver that lasts for a year, rent eye protection, hearing protection, practice targets, a shooting lane (we got 3), and of course a long gun and a pistol plus ammo for the guns. Everything ended up costing about $75 per person for an hour on the lanes.
First-time Weapons Training
While we were purchasing our rental equipment, we told the employee we were first time shooters and he did something surprising to me. He flipped on the TV on the wall and showed us a short couple minute video on how to shoot, load, and reload your rental firearm. This was informative but not as nearly as detailed as I was expecting. We were then handed our weapons, told where NOT to aim them while carrying them and then headed through the soundproof doors to the range. I was shocked because this seemed like normal treatment for newbies.
“We just got handed deadly weapons without ANY 1-on-1 training. WOW!”
What I was imagining before I came into the range was that we were going to receive at least someone showing us in person the ins and outs of firing a handgun. I at least knew the basics since I have researched it before. I can’t imagine someone who had NO idea how firearms operated, come in and rent a gun and try to shoot. I think, maybe, things like that should be changed a bit for newcomers. It would take the stress off knowing you have a deadly weapon and are responsible for it, trying to learn about it without knowing anything about it. There are classes, I know, but something right out the gate other than a short video would probably be a little more helpful.
The Shooting Range
We were all pretty impressed by the triple door soundproof “airlock” feature leading us into the gun range. That last door leading directly onto the range was a game changer. There were a few people currently shooting. This was the first time I heard gunfire in person. I have always heard guns were loud but OH MY GOD, I really had no idea. Even with my ear protection on, the sound was startling. I hear this was more of a factor because this was an indoor gun range facility. As we were setting up in our lanes, I made the statement “War is loud” and everyone nodded in agreement.
Another thing that was amazing to me was the wave of force coming off the gun when shot. Of course, now I know that they are mini shockwaves that are created once the projectile is shot. Bigger gun tend to have more force coming off them then smaller ones.
Setting up our weapons
The guns we rented consisted of a wide range of different types of guns. We had a couple of semi-automatic pistols, a couple of semi-automatic assault rifles including the FN SCAR-L and the AK-47, and a shotgun – the Remington 870. A person in each lane put a target of choice up and sent it down range. The 5 of us had to took turns back and forth in our lanes to get a chance to fire the different weapons we all had. We had one lane setup for the Rifles, one lane setup for the shotgun, and one lane setup for the handguns. I was the first to try the Beretta 92FS, the first handgun we picked out to try. I picked this one out right before SIG had won the competition to be the US Army’s new standard handgun. I knew that the Beretta 92FS (M9) has been the US Army’s standard handgun since 1990. We had to load our guns manually so I got started to loading the magazine as I read how in the past. As I was loading, my hands were slightly trembling. My thoughts kept pondering on the fact that I was about to shoot real firearms and how nervously excited this made me.
Firing My first Firearm
I got done loading the magazine (those last few rounds are hard to load) and I signal the groom-to-be over give it a try first since it’s supposed to be his “party”. He declined (he’s not a go get ’em type of guy) so I decided to load the gun and try it myself first. So I loaded the gun, pulled back the slide, made sure the safety was off, and pointed it at the target down range that we purchased, and pulled the trigger. I can now check off this on my bucket list. The feeling was exhilarating! I’m not even sure I hit the target. As I shot a couple more rounds, I began to regain my composure and really start paying attention to the details of my shooting. One thing I noticed is that it is really hard to shoot a handgun accurately if you have had no experience. We set the target at 7 meters out as instructed by the range guide and it was amazing how off my shots were. It was then that I realized why Police Officers train at the range as much as they do and my hat goes off to them.
Trying other weapons
Once I finished a magazine (about 15 rounds), I put the safety on, cleared the gun and removed the magazine so my friend could give it a try. I stepped out of the lane to take some pictures of the whole event. When I was done, I wanted to try out the SCAR-L. When I was shooting the Beretta, I noticed that there were much louder sounds coming from the lanes next to me. I have always wanted to shoot a SCAR since I read it was made to suit Spec Ops in the field. So I made my way over to that lane and gave it a go. The first thing I noticed about the SCAR was how heavy it was. I felt sorry for soldiers who had to carry this thing, the ammo, plus the rest of the gear he had to trek with for miles upon miles. These guys make it look super easy for sure. The second thing I noticed about shooting the SCAR was that my shots were MUCH tighter. Even when shooting with iron sights at 20 meters, my accuracy was a lot better than shooting with a semi-automatic pistol.
This is why we use the phrase “Practice Makes Proficient” – it takes plenty of practice with many different types of weapons to be good at all types of firearms.
When it was my turn to shoot the Remington 870 (I was the last to shoot it), I was very intimidated by it. I know 12 gauge shotguns pack quite a punch. Plus, I could feel the force of this thing well from the other lane. For my first time at a gun range, I was once again surprised how heavy these firearms are. Movies seem to portray these weapons as decently light but in real life, its a whole other story. When I proceeded to fire, the kick got me. It didn’t get me that much since I knew what was going to happen but, you are never truly prepared for the feeling of a 12 gauge firing in your hands and the pressure into your shoulder. Since we were firing slugs, It was kind of everything I was expecting from a shotgun except the spread of pellets as you would expect from buck or bird shot.
It took more than an hour to get through all of our shooting. We had a blast, though – figuratively and literally. One thing I knew for sure was – I was coming back! There were so many other guns I wanted to shoot. I also NEEDED to get better with my pistol shooting. The AR-15 was also a weapon I wanted to try. If you decide to go and try shooting for the first time at a gun range, I suggest you go in prepared with a couple of items. Get yourself a good pair of Electronic Ear Protection and a nice comfortable set of Eye Protection. If you need it, I also suggest a nice pair Shooting Gloves to help you load, reload and grip the gun, especially if you are on a range outdoors. We have covered a number of great items previously so take a look around and get geared up so you can be ready for your first time at a gun range and any future times you go – because there will be future time.We have also made a whole post about the items a beginner will need so check that out as well. Remember, Practice Makes Proficient.